Monday, August 5, 2013

Thoughts on Being a Stay At Home Mama

I wanted to write down some of my thoughts on being a stay at home mom. This week we had a bit of a financial hiccup and I sort of had to make the decision all over again about whether I wanted to continue staying at home. Before I say anything I just want to add that there are a lot of ways that women choose to balance work and family based on their own individual needs- my situation may be different than another woman's situation and therefore my choice is different. I don't mommy judge anyone, nor do I think there is one right way to raise your family. But here are my personal experiences-

When I was 19 I worked full time and went to school full time, I only had time to eat one meal a day, I usually got home from work around 11 pm, then had to study, then had to be up at 7 am for class. I thought I had the most exhausting life... Then my aunt and uncle went out of town and I spent a week with 3 kids ages 3, 4, and 5. Making meals, getting people ready for school, bed time, bath time, and every meal a blood bath over who got to drink out of the hello kitty cup. Every morning after school drop off I drove to 711 to get myself an industrial size Red Bull and cry quietly in the parking lot. My dumb 19 year old self had NO idea what true exhaustion was.

So my days haven't quite culminated in that yet! No toddlers and just the one kid is much more manageable but like that week, these last five months have been the most exhausting of my life. I was originally planning on returning to work part time, and I did- for a grand total of three days. I was working from home, waving a toy at Cooper's face with one hand while trying to type with the other hand and I glanced over at him and realized he had just smiled for the very first time and I missed it. I quit on the spot. In three seconds I made a major life decision (which weirdly is how I make all of my major decisions, I really need to start some pro's and con's lists or something...)

To me working was easy, I had one job and I was good at that one thing, it gave me validation to accomplish tangible things. Now as a stay at home mom I feel like there are a million jobs I have to be good at. And sadly I really suck at a lot of them. For some reason I feel like the actual motherhood part of it is very small and that I need to be a professional seamstress, an interior designer, a gourmet chef, an amazing crafter! Suddenly there are a lot more things to fail at, and a vast amount of people that are just really a lot better at those things than I am. Most days I go to sleep feeling like I failed at everything. And when I don't fail, there's no positive affirmation, no tangible things to show for my day, my to-do list is usually longer than the one I started the morning with...

A few days ago we recieved some new information about our hospital bills that would make our tight budget even tighter. For a few days I toyed around with the idea of working part time, I looked around, I set up an interview and then I really gave my situation a second thought. Being a mom is exhausting, it is a job that never ends, and most of the time it makes me feel super inadequate. But it also makes me see the bigger picture. It makes me see that if we can cover our expenses with me staying at home, it doesn't matter if I can't buy a bunch of fun things for myself. Spending time with Cooper doesn't even register on the same playing field as replacing all my dishes with fiesta ware. I don't need to spend my weekends going out to eat, shopping, and seeing movies anymore, they're all experiences Cooper renders absolutely miserable anyway. I don't need to go on vacations where I sit on an exotic beach somewhere with my husband, I can go on a road trip for Cooper to see his grandparents.

So this week has taught me to be grateful for my budget, to be grateful I had to say no to going and getting a pedicure because that means that every morning I get to wake up to a little man who usually has all four appendages stuck in his crib bars and needs someone to help get him out. It means I get to spend all day playing and tickling and reading stories and singing songs. It means I am there to see the first time Cooper realizes he has feet. It means I have time to really get to know my boy and be the only person that knows things like Cooper's thighs are really tickelish and that he loves to stare at the microwave. And if I have to paint my own toenails to do all that then it's actually a really easy choice to make.

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